We are dedicated listeners of The RVFTA Podcast after discovering it while pulling our pop up camper home after we purchased it. In the last fourteen months, we haven't missed an episode as Stephanie and Jeremy inspire us to camp more. When they announced their Fall Midwest RVFTA Rally, hosted by Travels with Birdy, we made our reservations. So what if it's not a long weekend and we can't leave work early Friday, we were going!
The rally was held in Branson, MO. We will admit that this was not a destination we've ever considered as desirable. Nonetheless, we hit the road Friday evening. We stopped for dinner at Hayden's BBQ in Popular Bluff, MO. This was a great start to our weekend. Hayden's is a cute, 1950's-style dinner with a lunch counter and that classic diner decor. We enjoyed their 'famous' pulled ham and a burger. The food was good enough that we will certainly return if we ever find ourselves in Popular Bluff again. Back on the road, we arrived at the campground after 11pm.
The rally was held at Tall Pines Campground in Branson. The campground was dark and quiet when we arrived and we set up up camp as quickly and quietly as we could. The sites, although along a hilltop of the Ozarks, were flat, which made set up easy. The next morning, we were able to better appreciate the setting of Tall Pines as we made breakfast. We were nestled in the hills with tall trees around us. There was an overlook several sites down where we could appreciate the view of the Ozarks. The campground is older, but well maintained. The bathhouses were acceptable and the playground entertained the kids very well. We had a first--letting the kids blow a few dollars in the campground arcade while we planned out our Saturday.
When the quarters were depleted, we decided to explore downtown Branson and Branson Landing. We walked the shops downtown and at the Landing. We walked the river as well. We discussed a lot of different options prior to the trip like Silver Dollar City, Fritz's Adventure (which was still under construction), or outdoor activities at the lakes and the forest. There are a lot of options for a future visit that we would enjoy. We kept the time away from the campground short because we wanted to return early to relax and meet others attending the rally.
We got back to Tall Pines mid-afternoon. We set up the slackline at our campsite, let the kids ride their bikes and play at the playground, and met several of the Fall Midwest RVFTA Rally attendees. Later, the Rally attendees did a walking tour of their RV's. We all gathered at the pavilion and had a potluck and took part in an RVFTA trivia game. We ended the evening with a bonfire. Throughout the entire evening, the kids played together like old friends and the adults shared stories around the fire. So, we learned what a RV Rally is. Lots of great people sharing stories around a campfire. To further learn about our trip, search #rvftamidwestrally to see Instagram pictures.
We mentioned an unplanned side trip on the way home. We discovered that Mansfield, MO was on the way home. Mansfield is the location where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived during her adult life. This was the location where she wrote the "The Little House" series. We visited the new visitor center, home, and museum at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum. Lillian in particular enjoyed the visit, seeing the house, and the family's personal items mentioned in the books, including Pa's fiddle. This was an exciting treat that we were able to add on to the weekend.
Next for Cricket Camping is a return trip to the Smoky Mountains for Thanksgiving, which is certain to be another great adventure!
Shane and Jessica
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